Rewarding Durban theatre

2009-11-26 00:00

ON an evening when Durban’s theatre community gathered to praise its best, it was Steven Stead and Greg King’s KickstArt Theatre Company that walked away with a sackful of awards.

The company, and the actors who have appeared in Cinderella, Noises Off, Little Shop of Horrors and Wit, won 21 gongs at the Mercury Durban Theatre Awards at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.

In accepting his award for best musical theatre production for Little Shop of Horrors, Stead said: “I am so proud of this production ... a lot of people tell us our shows are world- class, but this show really was.”

His partner, King, added that he had wanted to do the musical since he was in high school. “I’ve had a love affair with Audrey 2 since way back when. Every part of this show was great fun,” said King, who won the award for set design for the musical.

Accepting the directing award for best drama/comedy for Wit later in the evening, Stead said: “This play was an extraordinary experience. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve done in my career.”

Other productions acknowledged by the judges were Othello, uThemba lethu, Shear Madness, Madame President Musical, Native Blues, Tree Boy and Sing It Sista.

Two special awards were also handed out at the ceremony. Playhouse Company arts administrator, Peter Taylor, received the inaugural Monica Fairall Memorial Award for people working behind the scenes who “give back far more than they receive”. Presenting him with the award, Durban theatre stalwart, Caroline Smart, said he was setting a benchmark which would be hard to match.

In addition to his day job, Taylor is the administrator of the Durban Theatre Awards and the community outreach project Cato Manor Vibe!!, is treasurer and a director of KZN DanceLink, and a former treasurer of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (Pansa) KZN.

The second special recipient of the evening was Themi Venturas, who received the Judges Award. Currently playing the role of Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Playhouse Opera Theatre, Venturas was honoured for his ongoing contribution to the performing arts community.

The founder and CEO of the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf, he also runs the Young Performers Project; started the Blue Monday Platform youth initiative — a monthly variety-show format for young performers; has directed innovative productions such as Shear Madness; created the sixties review shows Shoo Bop Shoo Bop and Good Vibrations; directed opera for Opera Africa; and founded The Musho Festival of One and Two Person Theatre, hosted by Pansa and run from the Catalina Theatre.

During the evening, the audience was also treated to excerpts from some of the productions being staged in and around Durban over the ­festive season, including: Peter Pan (Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from December 8 to January 10), My Fair Lady (The Playhouse Opera Theatre until December 30), Credit Crunch Christmas Party (Catalina Theatre from December 3 to 30), Sinderella – the Adult Pantomime (Jubilee ­Supper Theatre until December 31) and ­Dolphins by Candlelight at ­uShaka Marine World from December 16 to 19.


• Best drama/comedy production: KickstArt ( Wit )

• Director — drama/comedy: Steven Stead (Wit)

• Lead actor — drama/comedy: Bheki Mkhwane (uThemba lethu)

• Lead actress — drama/comedy: Clare Mortimer ( Wit )

• Performance in a comedy – male: Marc Kay (Shear Madness)

• Performance in a comedy – female: Daisy Spencer (Shear Madness)

• Theatre personality of the year: Liesl Coppin

• Supporting actor – drama/comedy: Iain Robinson (Othello)

• Supporting actress – drama/comedy: Olivia Borgen (Wit)

• New South African script: Neil Coppen (Tree Boy)

• Judges Award: Themi Venturas

• Monica Fairall Award: Peter Taylor

• Musical theatre production: KickstArt (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Music revue production: Sue Clarence Productions (Let’s Misbehave)

• Director – musical: Steven Stead (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Musical director – musical: Henry Faca Kulu (Native Blues)

• Lead actor – musical: Bryan Hiles (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Lead actress – musical: Lisa Bobbert (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Supporting actor – musical theatre: Lucky Simayile (Madame President Musical)

• Supporting actress – musical theatre: Pume Zondi (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Performer – music revue/music compilation/cabaret: Lauren Laing (Sing It Sista)

• Choreography – musical theatre: Janine Bennewith (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Best children’s theatre production: KickstArt (Cinderella)

• Director children’s theatre: Steven Stead (Cinderella)

• Lead actor children’s theatre: Bryan Hiles (Cinderella)

• Lead actress children’s theatre: Janna Ramos-Violante (Cinderella)

• Supporting actress children’s theatre: Shelley McLean (Cinderella)

• New performer – female: Londiwe Dhlomo (Little Shop of Horrors)

• New performer – male: Farai Qwaze (Othello)

• Poster design: Shirley Berko (Wit)

• Sound design: Megan Levy (Little Shop of Horrors)

• Lighting design: Tina le Roux (Wit)

• Costume design: Terrence Bray ( Little Shop of Horrors )

• Set design: Greg King ( Little Shop of Horrors )


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